SEO isn’t always at the top of a business owner’s list–especially if you are running a startup. Between meetings, sales pitches, strategy calls, and everything else, who has time for SEO?
Furthermore, most entrepreneurs are intimidated by the thought of ranking high on Google. If done incorrectly, SEO can be a waste of time. Yet, when done correctly, SEO can bring in hundreds of prequalified leads on a regular basis. So, since the benefits are clear, it’s time to take another look at SEO for your business.
Here’s a helpful quick start SEO guide that includes the basics you need to know.
1. Optimize your website
First things first, you need a company website, but not just any website. Custom coded sites require you know the technical side of SEO in order to optimize website pages. However, with WordPress-based sites, you can install plugins like Yoast SEO and simply follow their SEO instructions for on-site optimization. Yoast is free with a paid version available for $69 per year. So, this will set you at ease if you’re dreading the code side of your SEO strategy.
2. Understand your ideal customer
Next up, you need to know 3 key things about your target audience (and your competition):
what they are searching for;
how often is a given search phrase used;
and the competition level for each phrase?
I have great news, this part is actually much easier than it sounds!
I highly recommend a tool called Kwfinder, an easy-to-use keyword research tool to discover perfect keyword ideas. Simply enter keywords you believe that your target audience uses. Select the area your target demographic is located. Click “Find Keywords” and a list of relevant search terms will be presented. With each search term, you will also see 2 very important metrics:
Search (search volume)
DIFF (difficulty of that given phrase)
At this point, the name of the game is to find a keyword phrase that has high search volume and low difficulty. Keep it below 30 or 40, because your site likely doesn’t yet have enough domain authority to rank for more difficult keywords. Make a list of at least 25 phrases that you really want to rank for, so you can use them later in your content.
KWfinder’s free account includes 3 lookups per 24 hours and 50 related keywords per search. The basic account gives you 100 searches per day at $149 per year.
3. Publish SEO-friendly content
At the heart of any relevant SEO strategy is content. Google wants to serve relevant information to users and to do that, your site needs to offer valuable content.
Content marketing is also where the first two steps come into play. Choose one or two keywords for each page and plug them into Yoast before you publish your content. Follow the instructions in the Yoast tool and you will get your Yoast “SEO green light”. At this point, your on-site SEO for that specific page will be finished.
4. Prove your authority
The last step is to show Google you are worthy of their traffic. This is done with social proof in the form of high quality links to your website. I am not going to candy coat it for you, this is the most difficult step. It will make or break your SEO strategy!
Again, I have some good news! There is a really good tool to take the guess work out of this process and save you a monumental amount of time and frustration. SEOJet analyzes links to the page you want to rank and compares it to the link profiles of other top ranked websites. Then it gives you a road map of the links and link-text you need rank at or near the top of Google.
As for how to find links, there is another great tool by Backlinko that gives you an exhaustive list of link building/earning strategies and breaks them up by time frame, link value, and skill dependencies. You can find it here.
Finally, a word of caution. If a link seems too easy to get, then it probably isn’t worth much. Everyone else is probably spamming that website for links. Furthermore, links from shady websites can actually hurt your website authority.
Instead, lean heavily on your core skills as a company. Make sure people know you are the expert. Offer value and educate your target audience on your industry and you never know where your content may end up.
This article has been edited.
Joshua C. Farley is the founder of Boston SEO and digital marketing agency, Blue Phoenix Creative. He is invigorated to go to work everyday and provide quality results to BPC clients. Connect with @moonfaller on Twitter.